Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: U.S. Hotel Sourcing, LLC
Agency: United States Coast Guard
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- GAO will not review a protest that an agency was required to extend the performance of the protester’s existing order, rather than soliciting competition for the issuance of a new order.
- Protest that an agency did not synopsize its simplified acquisition requirement is denied, where the agency reasonably found that the requirement was too urgent to allow public posting of the solicitation.
- Where a request for quotations does not identify any evaluation factors or inform vendors of the basis for the agency’s award selection, price is necessarily the only factor considered.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
U.S Hotel Sourcing, LLC protested the issuance to Bluewater Management Group of a task order for berthing and messing services of the 52-person crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Maple, while in drydock. U.S. Hotel Sourcing had an order to provide these services from April 2 to May 2. When the agency asked about extending the services until May 10, U.S Hotel Sourcing responded that it could extend services if it could move the crew to a different hotel on May 5. The agency then sought quotations pursuant to the simplified acquisition procedures of FAR Part 13; its request for quotations did not identify any evaluation criteria. The agency issued an order to Bluewater, as the vendor with the lowest-priced quotation.
The GAO first dismissed U.S. Hotel Sourcing’s claim that the agency should have extended its existing order, rather than seeking quotations for the issuance of a new order, pointing out that contract options are exercised solely at the discretion of the government. The GAO also rejected U.S. Hotel Sourcing’s complaint that the Coast Guard failed to inform the protestor that the agency was soliciting quotations from other vendors, and failed to synopsize the requirement on FedBizOpps. The GAO pointed out that urgent procurements are exempt from the detailed synopsis and posting requirements that are generally applicable to all procurements. Finally, the GAO found that the issuance of the order to Bluewater was based upon that firm’s low price, not upon any assessment of U.S. Hotel Sourcing’s past performance.
Agencies have no obligation to exercise any options on an existing contract. If the agency opts to recompete a requirement, rather than exercise an option, incumbent contractors cannot successfully protest that the agency should have exercise its option or otherwise extended the contract. In participating in the procurement, the incumbent contractor may find other aspects of the solicitation or award that may be grounds for protest. Disappointed offerors, whether the former incumbent contractor or otherwise, should always request a debriefing so as to better understand the evaluation of their quotation and to determine whether the agency complied with the criteria in the RFQ.